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Stem cell culturing without the use of animal substances
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Human embryonic stem cells for the first time have been cultured at chemically controlled conditions exclusive of the application of animal material, which is a vital aspect for future clinical uses.


Scientists and researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, produced human stem cells devoid of other cells from animals, in an entirely chemically-defined ambiance. So far embryonic stem cells have been cultured by means of animal proteins, excluding the possibility of applying them for human treatment. At present, they have been cultivated on a matrix of a distinct human protein: laminin-511, a component of our connective tissue, a matrix that helps cell to connect to. This is a highly promising research since it may enable scientists to build up various cell types that can lead to management of various human diseases.


It is possible to transform the embryonic stem cells into other cell type in the body and can be potentially applied for replacement of abnormal cells. However one of the major setbacks is that it is quite hard to avoid contamination while developing and culturing human embryonic stem cells. At present they are cultured with the help of animal proteins, which overrules the possibility of ensuing application in the treatment of humans. On the other hand, it is possible to culture stem cells on other human cells, recognized as feeder cells, however these cells discharge huge amount of uncontrolled proteins thereby resulting in contradictory research results.


With the discovery of the process of culturing the cells on a matrix of a single human protein:   it has now become possible to generate huge quantities of human embryonic stem cells in a chemically defined. In the newly formed embryo, the protein laminin-511 is required to keep stem cells as stem cells. Laminin is needed with the once the embryo starts developing.  So far, since it is quite not possible to extract and produce laminin from tissues it becomes difficult for the researchers to access various forms of laminin . However over the past couple of decades, a research group headed by Karl Tryggvason's  has cloned the genes for most of the laminins in human, investigated their biological role, illustrated two genetic diseases and, at present  applying gene technology, generated various retypes of laminin. Using recombinant techniques the researchers produced the laminin-511. The scientists and researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute also reported that in the similar manner it is possible to culture cells known as reprogrammed stem cells, that has been transformed "back" from tissue cells to stem cells.
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